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First of all let me say how grateful I am for the e-mails and comments regarding this series.  I'm so glad they are helping some of you.

In this part I want to talk to you about "Excess Baggage."  Not those unsightly 'love-handles,' we all fight...but the excess baggage that we carry around from past hurts and offenses in our relationships.

It goes without saying that each of us has suffered the pain that relationships can bring.  I don't know anyone who hasn't suffered rejection, humiliation, ridicule, back-biting, deceit and name-calling at some point in their lives. 

I don't care how strong or uncaring we may like to portray ourselves...these types of emotional scars can last a lifetime and cause us to build a wall around ourselves bigger than the famous one in keep it from happening again.  After all...God gave us a brain and once we've suffered pain our brain yells: "Don't do that again!"

In a perfect world we would all get along wonderfully...tip-toeing through the tulips...walking on the Sunny side of the Street and words like divorce, war, murder and hatred would be non-existent.
Well...we don't live in a perfect world.  We can blame that on the very first "two people" to every engage in a relationship on the Earth...Adam and Eve.

I'm convinced that the problems began because Adam was a Republican and was Baptist and Eve was a Democrat and a Methodist.  Just kidding.

Actually, their problems had to do with World's oldest problem...selfishness.  Eve wanted something she wasn't supposed to have...something that was not good for her, and she knew it would bring destruction upon her husband and her children...yet...she wanted to eat...and that was that.

I would say that 99% of relational problems exist today because of selfishness.  In fact, we inherit selfishness from our parents...and grandparents...all the way back guessed it...The Democrat and the Republican. (I mean Adam and Eve).

One of the first things we have to teach our children is "how to share."  Why?  Because they are born naturally selfish.  They don't want to share. It's part of the "Curse of Sin," mentioned in the Bible.

Now, when people who are very selfish do not get their way...they get angry.  When that happens they attack.  This is where so many people become victims of painful experiences such as gossip, lies, hurtful name-calling, and every other vile act.

Because these events are SO HURTFUL, they tend to stick with us for a lifetime.  The problem with this excess baggage is that it can keep us from enjoying a beautiful and wonderful relationship with someone who is NOT selfish and who desires to give as much as they take.

I've met lot's of people in my lifetime.  My work and travels have allowed me to meet and know hundreds.  I can tell you...from those experiences, I've met some wonderful and incredible people who have added such great value to my life.  I've also met some who turned out to be...well let me just say...painful.  In hindsight they remind me of Dud Firecrackers.  When you first meet them they are full of spark and excitement...but give it a little time and all they produce is stinky smoke.  Or, they're fuse is so short it's bound to blow up in your face.


There are several problems that can arise from carrying around past hurts.  First, we can become like the very people who hurt us.  Remember, most child-molester's and abusers were first molested and abused.  This should be our number one never pass on our own hurts to someone else.  This is when emotional baggage is at it's most dangerous.

Secondly, we should never punish someone new for what someone old did to us.  Let me explain:  After finding myself in a couple of unhealthy relationships as a young man, I found myself so hurt that I didn't want to trust in love again...obviously for fear of getting hurt again.  When I finally met my wife Sharla we dated for four years before I could commit to marriage.  I'll never forget that one day she said, "Reydon, why are you making me pay for what someone else did to you?"  Ouch.

It was true...and that point is the gist of this article.  When others hurt us it often changes who we are and who we want to be.  The sad thing is...that is the greatest robbery of all. 

I once heard that one of the men who arrested David Berkowitz...the famous "Son of Sam," serial killer in New York, was ridiculed by other officers because he treated the killer so kind.  When asked why he did this, he remarked: "Because I'm not going to let someone like that change who I am."

That is the kind of person we should all desire to be.  Instead of letting hurtful and selfish people abuse us by robbing us of our peace, joy and love...we should simply move on determined not to allow them to change who we are.  If you're kind...don't let mean, bitter people infect you with their poison.  If you're happy...don't let unhappy and miserable people infect you with their emotional flu.  (You get the point).

We all know life is a gamble.  So are relationships.  Sometimes we get a winning hand and should hang onto it for dear life...sometimes we get a losing hand and should just fold before we lose senselessly...but don't every quit playing because of a few losing hands.  Remember, there is a Joker in the deck...but there is also a King.  The King is on your side.

More to come...

I love you all,

4:14 am cst 



Have you ever had the thought: "If people knew the real me, they wouldn't like me." 

It is not at all uncommon for us to experience these self-doubts because we know ourselves better than anyone else...with the exception of God.  We know every sinful action, every sinful emotion and every unpleasant thought...things we wouldn't want others to know.  These are things that can make us feel horrible about ourselves and eventually lead us into living false lives for fear that if anyone knew the "real us," they wouldn't want to love us anymore.  This is grounded in a fear of rejection.

Sadly, many of these feelings are the result of certain teachings within Christianity that focus upon the sinner rather than our Redeemer.  We have all been witness to what happens to people who've been "uncovered," in their sin.  I even know personally of a Church that forces it's members to stand before the entire congregation to "confess" their failures as punishment.  This is an atrocity, in my opinion, and is one of the most humiliating and cruel things I can imagine.    I wouldn't stay in a Church like that for 10 seconds.  It also forces people to wear "masks" in order to hide from ridicule and rejection.  Instead of receiving mercy, grace and help...they go into hiding.  This, in turn, causes many to feel like a hypocrite which only adds to the pain.

I've also seen people who wear their "self-righteousness" like a cloak of honor.  They act "holier than thou," when it reality...ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God...including them.  I'll say it again...Self-righteousness is merely a mask to hide the fact that they are sinners just like everyone else.  Many times however, they truly believe themselves to be above everyone else in holiness, spirituality and so forth.  I personally think they are very deceived and I base that on scripture.  Jesus did not choose a single Jewish Religious Leader to be a disciple...instead he chose tax-collector's and of which confessed, "depart from me Lord, I'm a sinner and a failure." (Peter)  Jesus chose him anyway.

These self-rightous people are also usually mean-spirited and not a great source for healthy relationships.  As long as you perform up to their expectations, you are fine.  Fail to meet their criteria and you're out like the dirty dish water.  Trust me on this's their loss.

Remember, we all want and need healthy relationships to have a fulfilling life, but many times we have been so burned by them in our past that it can cause us to become bitter...or to wear masks that portray us as much different than we really are in order to be accepted.  This is a mistake.

I want you to know that God and your life-experiences have made you who you are and that is a good thing.  You are valuable because of who you really are...not what others might think you to be.  So you're a sinner?  Join the club.  Remember, Jesus chose you didn't chose Him.

Learning how to be the "real us," warts and all, allows us to engage in open and honest relationships...but it also brings us peace about who we are.  Please remember this...YOUR VALUE IS IN WHO YOU ARE...NOT WHAT YOU DO!

Did you know that many men grieve the loss of a career more than the loss of a wife?  How can that be?  Because from the time we are little boys, people ask us: "Whatcha gonna be when you grow up?"  They're not asking "Are you gonna be a good man, a good dad or a good husband," they are asking, "What's you gonna do for a living?"  This is why kids always say something like "A fireman, a policeman, an astronaut or the like." 

In other words, most men learn early on that their value is in what they do...not who they are.  Thus when they fail at a career, it is like failing at life.

I've personally come to learn that I'm a pastor because of "who I am," and not because of "what I can do."  God trusts me with His people because He made me able to love them no matter what...good or bad.  See what I mean?

I'll say it again...your true value is in who you really are...not what others...or even your own self want to make you.  Allow yourself to "take off your masks" and reveal to people who God made you.  It will set you free...and it will draw real relationships to you.

I love you all...more to come

6:04 pm cst 



In our examination of things that cause Relationship Barriers I would like to add "ignorance" as a big issue.  The truth is many people simply do not know how to engage in healthy relationships because they've been unfortuate to have mostly 'unhealthy' relationships throughout their lives.

I often say in marriage counseling, for example, that the number one reason for divorce is ignorance.  Most people simply do not know how to be married, because they've never been taught or trained in it.  If I had my way, High School would require at least a one year class on marriage and relationships in order to graduate.  This would help so many young people know what to expect and how to provide for and engage in healthy relationships.  Instead, most of us enter into them blindly and oftentimes with broken hearts and disasterous results.

With that being said, I want to mention that ignorance is quite different than stupidity.  Ignorance is when someone simply does not know or understand something, while stupidity is when someone knows better...but does the wrong thing anyway.  No one can fault us for ignorance...stupidity, however is a different issue.

What many people fail to realize about relationships is what people are actually seeking from them.  When this happens we find ourselves frustrated from not having our own needs met or even more frustrated when it seems like no matter how hard we try, we cannot seem to satisfy the other person in a relationship.
Again, this is largely due to ignorance.

As I said in an earlier part of this series, people seek relationships based upon certain needs and desires.  If we fail to understand this and do not know how to meet these needs, we will continually find ourselves frustrated and hurt in relationships.  In short, people seek relationships based upon what they can get out of them.

When a relationship is healthy it is one of the most life-giving and rewarding experiences of our lives.  If it is unhealthy, it is one of the most painful and stress-filled experiences in our lives.

In short...the main thing people are seeking in a relationship is to be "accepted."  Not accepted for their looks, money, intelligence, popularity and so forth...but accepted as valuable for who they really are...the person God made them.  Some of the most famous, weathly and beautiful people find it very difficult to find a relationship that is based solely upon them as a person.  That's why many of them are very unhappy.

Since we long to be "accepted," it stands to reason that the opposite is rejection, which is one of the most painful things we experience in life.  It is also one of our greatest fears.  The fear of rejection is what empowers peer-pressure, fads and so forth.  We become afraid of being "different" or revealing the "real us," for fear of being rejected.'s my point.  Our number one need in a relationship is acceptance for who we are.  Not based upon performance, social standing or financial wealth, but simply for what we have to offer as a human being.  Did you notice that Christ invites people into a relationship with Him...without asking them to change who they are first?  "Come unto Me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest."  That's because Jesus values the "real you," not the one that hides behind a mask for fear of rejection.

Once you discover the "real you" for yourself, embrace that and become confident in it as a gift and not a curse.  Nothing is more attractive than healthy self-confidence.  For example:  I love all kinds of music and "off the wall" movies and such...things that people have laughed at me for.  I take it in stride because I realize it's alright for me to be different.  It doesn't lessen my value.  In fact, it increases it. 

The worse thing we can do in a relationship is allow someone to try and change us and out of fear of rejection, we allow them to do so.  If they don't like the "real you," then they don't deserve you.  Let em' go.

On the other end of that scale, people need you to accept them for who they "really are," as well.

Please understand me...I'm not saying we should accept poor attitudes or behaviors from anyone...but those are behavioral issues, not identity issues.  If one of my son's is having a behavioral issue, I will deal with it....but I never let it change their identity.  For example:  My son Nathan is very sensitive and tender hearted, (wonder where he got that from), and it can sometimes cause him to be hurt or angered too easily causing poor behavior.  Although I might deal with his behaviors...I never want him to feel weak or belittled for being a sensitive person.  I simply want to channel it into healthy behaviors.

So here's my overall point:  In order for any of us to enter into healthy realtionships...we must know and understand who we are...down in our core.  It's the way God made us...and it is the very thing that should be treasured by anyone in a relationship with us. 

In part four I want to talk to about how to "strip away" all the outer layers that hide the real you...and actually might be defeating you in your relationships.  Outer layers that might actually repel people from you...rather than draw them to you.

I love you all,


5:22 am cst 



In the first part of this series I spoke of allowing ourselves to take a look in the "Mirror of the Holy Spirit," in order to get an accurate vision of who we really are.  This is important in relationships because 'who we are' determines what we have to offer within relationships. 

Everyone looking for a relationship is seeking what the other person has to offer.  Do they, for example, offer honesty, kindness, respect, humor, true love, devotion and caring...or do they offer dishonesty, rudeness, disrespect, harshness, criticism, selfishness and manipulation?  I'm sure we all know both types.

In every relationship we are seeking those things that will "add" to our lives...not take away from us, making an already hard life even harder.  Sadly, that's what many relationships we find ourselves in do...make life harder.

In a future segment of this series, I'll address how to "identify those who are open for healthy relationships, versus those who look only to drain you of your emotional, mental and physical resources.  For now, however, I want to keep the mirror upon us.

Now, every person bases their identity upon one of three things...and sometimes a combination of the three.  They are: What we think of ourselves, what others think of us and have said, and what God says about us.  Two of these visions can be grossly flawed...meaning what we think of ourselves and what others think of us.  In fact, there's little truth in those two visions.  Why?  Because no one can deceive us as easily as we can deceive ourselves and therefore, we must take care not to view ourselves as "more or less" than we truly are.  To do so is disastrous to relationships.

For example:  I knew a young woman who married a very stable and hardworking man.  He took very good care of her, but it became obvious through her actions that she believed she was better than he was and that he was somehow holding her back.  This became obvious in the way she treated him, talked to him and even how she talked to others about him.  Her self-deception led to arrogance and it became an impossible situation for the marriage.

The result was classic.  She found someone whom she saw as her equal and left her husband for him.  This pattern however, continued to exist and she soon left this man for someone else...and the saga continues. 

As bad as I hate to say this and as brash as it may sound...this woman was very beautiful and men love beautiful women and are willing to put up with just about anything to have and keep one.  (As the words of one song says: "When it comes to matters of the heart, there is nothing a fool won't get used to.") In this case...her beauty was literally all she had to offer, because all her actions were completely selfish and she could not be trusted.  On the inside she was as ugly as a troll. (God forgive me). Life became extremely miserable for each man she was with.

You see, the problem with this woman is that she is self-deceived.  She truly believes herself to matter more than anyone else around her...including her own children.  When anyone of us becomes self-deceived into believing we are better or more worthy than others...we become cruel, mean, hateful and dishonest people.  We will continually criticize everyone from the preacher to the waitress...because no one is meeting our selfish expectations.

Othertimes, we go to the opposite end of that scale and think "too little" of ourselves.  This actually enables others to abuse us.  It can also give off false signals.  For example:  In my youth I was extremely shy.  I longed for relationships but was simply too shy and frightened of rejection to seek them out.  The result was that many people falsely viewed me as arrogant or "stuck up."  In fact, I've had them tell me that to my face, once they learned who I really was.  I was shocked to learn this.

When we have low self-esteem we tend to "cast our pearls before swine."  In other words, since we see no value in ourselves, we will toss ourselves out there for anyone to mistreat...including the pigs of the world.

The only way to find the correct balance between these two extremes is to learn what the Bible says about us.  First...God is no respecter of persons.  That means that God loves us all equally and gave His Son for all of us.  Secondly...the Cross makes all of us equal...we are all sinners there, in need of the gift of salvation.  No one is one is shorter...not there at the Cross.

Although we should rejoice that God has placed such value upon each of us that He purchased us with the blood of His dear Son...we should also remember that He did the same for all people.  RED, BROWN, YELLOW, BLACK AND WHITE...they are precious in His sight.  That includes both male and female!

We should accept the truth about ourselves when God reveals it.  Are we kind or are we harsh?  Are we loving or are we temperamental?  Are we the "same yesterday, today and forever," or are we different yesterday, today, and tomorrow...leaving people wondering who the "real us" is?  Listen to your own words and they'll tell on you.  Examine your daily attitudes and they'll diagnose your relationship problems.

Are we humble or are we bigoted, believing ourselves to be above others?  Are we gentle or are we brash and demanding?  Are we peace-makers or are we war-starters?  Are we engaging or are we lazy?  Each one of these is essential or detrimental to healthy relationships.

See what I mean?  A tree is known by it's fruit!!!  Some trees offer fruit that is healthy, sweet and wonderful.  Others offer fruit that is poison...remember the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?

Precious friends...allow God to lovingly show you areas of your life that are hindering you from producing sweet and healthy fruit to others.  It never hurts for us to take a return trip to the Cross and be reminded that we are all sinners...but thankfully...redeemed.

I leave you with the words of one of my favorite songs:  "On a Cross of Crucifixion, 2000 years ago, blood was shed for the sins of every man and now I the foot of that Cross the ground is level."

I Love you all,

(Part 3, coming soon)

1:42 am cst 



(Note: I believe that God created mankind in order to have loving relationships with them.  Therefore, I believe we were all created by God to have wonderful and healthy relationships that bring us great fulfillment.  Sadly, many people struggle in relationships for various reasons.  I hope to address some of the reasons people struggle in relationships and how they can improve in the following series.)

There are many things that keep good people from experiencing good relationships.  As one man said, "Sometimes it's Me...Sometimes it's Thee."  In other words, it takes two healthy people to engage in one healthy relationship. 

One of the first things we have to do if we desire to have significant and long-lasting relationships is to take a long hard look at ourselves.  It's very easy to have an unrealistic view of ourselves and therefore portray someone who we are not.

For example:  We may think we are very compassionate people, but to others we can come across as harsh, judging and unpleasant.  Or, we might think of ourselves as ignorant and illiterate, while others view us as someone with great wisdom and important knowledge.

How can this be?  Simple...we have a tendency to view ourselves much differently than others view us.

According to research, most people establish their "self-view" between the ages of 3 and 15.  I call these the "forming years."  It is during this time that we absorb a ton of information about others and about ourselves.  Some of this information is good and accurate, while a large percentage is not good and is very inaccurate.

It is during this time that we come to believe that we are smart or stupid, foolish or wise, mean or nice, pretty or ugly, above or below others...among many other things.

Because of this, we carry many of the things we think about ourselves and others, (whether true or not) throughout our entire lives...unless we can stop and rearrange our thinking on these matters through honest and objective thoughts.  It's safe to say that many of our thoughts are accurate and healthy, but it's also safe to say that many are not.

Here's my we feel and think about ourselves will continually and directly affect how we act and interact in our relationships and will ultimately determine whether we engage in healthy or unhealthy relationships.  Let me give you an example:

When I was a Freshman in High School, I was in the lockerroom following a football workout.  The room was full of my peers when the Head Coach walked through and looked at me and said: "Reydon Stanford, you ugly dog...there isn't a girl out there who would date you!"  Now to his defense...he was only teasing and it was common 'lockerrroom chatter,' but I took it seriously.  The result was, that I would not ask girls out during High School...after all, why would anyone want to date an ugly dog?

The next result was that when I did finally have a relationship, it was very abusive...on her part...and I simply put up with it thinking it was the best I could do.  Finally, I began to notice that several girls were interested in me...and to my amazement, they were healthy and wonderful people and would openly compliment me on my looks.  I was shocked!  I had fully accepted the word of this coach as truth and paid for it with a bad relationship and years of low self-esteem.

This is my point...oftentimes we have a very different view of ourselves than others do, (or that is accurate), which can cause us great problems in our relationships.  It is vital then, that we allow the Holy Spirit to place us before the "Mirror of Truth," so that we can begin to see ourselves for who we truly are.  Only then can we embrace the changes that need to be made to make us healthier and embrace the good things that do not need changing!

In this series we will examine several aspects of our thinking to find out whether or not we have healthy thinking in that area.  My prayer is that it will help us learn to change things that are self-defeating in our relationships, while helping us to embrace those things that we are gifted with that will bring great value into our relationships.

Thanks for your time,

3:46 pm cst 



When I was a teenager I was forced during the summer months to hoe cotton.  If you've done this, you know how long, hot and boring those days can be.  If you haven't done will help you appreciate your current employment! (Grin)

After complaining to my mother about having to do this dirty job from sun up to virtually sun down, she told me if I could find another job, she'd let me off the hook.  Luckily I went to work for a carpenter soon after and left the cotton fields behind me.

One of the first things I learned as a Carpenter's apprentice is that tools are very important...second only to skill.  Every morning was spent collecting the proper tools for the days work and making sure they were operational.  At days end, it was vital to make sure that all those same tools were picked up, cleaned and placed back into their proper place in the tool boxes.  This "care of tools" was deeply stressed.

Did you know that Christian's also have a toolbox full of tools that are just as important to the success of the day?  It's true.  I hope you'll allow me to share my thoughts with you on the main tool of Christianity...Prayer.

One day the disciples came to Jesus as asked Him a very important question.  They asked: "Lord, teach us to pray."  His response was historic.  He said, "When you pray say this...

Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed is Your name.  Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven.  Give us this day our Daily Bread, and forgive us of our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One, for Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power and the Glory forever, Amen."

You see, prayer is important because it is the way we give God permission to bless and help us.  Now you may wonder why God would NEED permission to help us, but it's because He refuses to force Himself on anyone.  Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock, IF ANYONE  will hear My voice and open the door, I will come in..."  God wants a relationship with us based upon our free will...not Him forcing us into one.  So...prayer is giving God permission to bless and help us.

Did you see all the tools included in that prayer?  Think about it:

Acknowledgment that God is our Father, not a mean old God ready to destroy us at the first sign of failure.

He is in Heaven above all our problems and fears.

Acknowledgment that we need God's will for our day, (which is blessing and life), rather than the world's will for us, (which is usually more bondage and heartache).

Acknowledgment that we need God's supply daily.  Not just real bread to eat, but spiritual bread and mental bread as well, to feed and strengthen our whole man.

Acknowledgment that we both need to receive and give the gift of forgiveness.  Most relationships fail or suffer for a simple lack of daily forgiveness.  When our relationships suffer, we experience great stress, sadness, pain and fear.  Forgiveness is a great cure for this.

Acknowledgment that there is a real Devil out their and that we need help to steer clear of him.

Acknowledgment that all things belong to God and He is able to supply them to us as needed.

My friends...this prayer is a daily tool that can release amazing things into your day and thus into your life.  My hope is that you will take the Lord's advice and make this your daily prayer as well.

I love you all,


4:25 pm cst 



First of all, let me apologize that it's taken me so long to write a new article for the website!  The Holidays were a bit of a "crazy time" for us and I've been working on several projects which have taken alot of my time.

Also, I awoke on Christmas morning with a nasty cough and have struggled to get well.  I'm rarely sick so when it does come knocking on my door I don't handle it very well.  I'm scheduled for my yearly check-up so I'm hoping to get some assistance from my dear friend and medical doctor Terry Gage.  Not only is he a great doctor, but a wonderful preacher and teacher of the Word of God.

I do pray that your hearts are filled with great anticipation for wonderful things in 2008!  I'm praying that this will be a year of Divine "Breakthrough" for each of us and that our days will be filled with the ever-present knowledge of the presence of the Holy Spirit working on our behalf.

As I look around the World and study events, I'm becoming more and more convinced that the Second Coming of the Lord could be just over the horizon.  The World is looking to politicians, elections, military victories and even new weapons to further their causes, but I'm looking the only One who can truly "fix" all that is wrong in the World...Jesus Christ.

As Bill and Gloria Gaither said so eloquently in a song: "Kings and kingdoms, shall all pass away...but there's something about that Name!"  When all the kingdoms of the Earth are no more...the Kingdom of God will be alive and well...thriving in life, love and peace!  Oh, how I long for that day.

Precious Saints, I pray that this year will be a year when our hearts and minds turn to the sky as we eagerly and anxiously await the appearing of our Savior.  I pray that every lost soul will be awakened to the Love and power of Christ and will find the peace that comes from knowing they are received into eternal life, through the free gift of Christ.

Who knows...this time next year, we might be feasting at the "Marriage Supper of the Lamb," instead of trying to figure out how to overcome all the problems that so easily fill our current days.  Wouldn't that be awesome?

What a glorious future we have to look forward too...all because the Son of God, so selflessly gave His life that you and I could inherit salvation and eternal life.

I look forward to sharing my heart with you all in the articles that will come to my spirit this year.  I know that God will speak to us through His love and encourage He has for generations before us.

I love you all,

3:34 am cst 

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